Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Madden '08: Will Vince Young Feel the Curse? [J. Mark English]

This from XBox Solutions:

Electronic Arts Inc. announced today that the NFL’s 2006 Rookie of the Year Vince Y
oung will appear on the cover of Madden NFL 08, the latest iteration of the EA SPORTS best-selling football franchise with the official video game license of the NFL and its players. The Tennessee Titans quarterback’s appearance on the cover of Madden NFL 08 makes him the youngest NFL star to grace the cover. Last year’s Madden NFL 07 sold over 7 million copies and was the number one selling game in North America in 2006. Madden NFL 08 will be available for purchase beginning August 14.

“It is truly an honor for me to be on the cover of Madden NFL 08, every NFL player dreams of being on the cover,” said Young. “After being named Rookie of the Year and going to the Pro Bowl my first season - this is a perfect way to start my second season in the NFL.”

I'm sure if he really feels that this is an honor. Let look at the history of the previous players to grace the cover of Madden and how the curse got them:

  1. Up until the 1999 season, John Madden himself was featured on the cover holding on to a play book. In 1999, for the first time, the game decided to feature a player. The first one was Garrison Hearst. In his previous season, he ran for over 1500 yards. In 1999 on the first play of the game against the Atlanta Falcons, he suffered a bad ankle break and would not play again until 2001.
  2. Barry Sanders and Dorsey Levens shared the cover with John Madden in 2000. However, shortly before the 2000 season training camp, Barry Sanders aburptly retired from football. Levens had a decent season for the Packers that year, but was cut the following year and never regained his great ability he had before 2000.
  3. Eddie George had been on quite a roll heading into the 2001 season. Then he was on Madden. He 2001 he failed to gain 1,000 yards rushing, and had only 5 touchdowns. He was never the same after 2001 and a few years later found himself in retirement.
  4. Daunte Culpepper was on the cover in 2002. The Vikings struggled that season, starting off 4-7, until he had season ending knee surgery.
  5. Marshall Faulk in 2003 was arguably one of the best players in all of football. He was the leader of the high octane offense that was the St. Louis Rams. Just as luck would have it, his being on the cover preceded a season when he would suffer an ankle injury. He would never break the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the rest of his career.
  6. Shortly after Michael Vick learned that he would be on the cover for the Madden 2004 game, he fractured his right fibula in a pre-season game. Vick would only manage to play the last five regular season games in 2004.
  7. Madden went with a change in decided to put a defensive player on the cover. That defensive great was Ray Lewis. Ray Lewis had been a defensive MVP caliber player heading into 2005. Lewis would break his wrist during the season, would not have a single interception. He had six INT's the previous year. He missed most of the season due to injury, and the Ravens missed the playoffs.
  8. Donovan McNabb held the dubious honor of being on the cover in 2006. For most of the season McNabb endured an on the field and off the field feud with teammate Terrell Owens. He also played most of the season with a sports hernia. After the tenth game of the season, he decided to have surgery on his hernia, shutting him down for the rest of the year.
  9. Coming off an MVP season, and a trip to the Super Bowl, Shaun Alexander was on the cover in 2007. In the 4th game of the season he suffered a fracture in his 4th metatarsal in his left foot. He tried to play through the injury, but was ineffective. Alexander would eventually miss six games. he would only rush for a shade under 900 yards, and the Seahawks squeezed into the playoffs.
Given the history, its inevitable Vince Young will suffer this season. Look for Kerry Collins to be the one that the Titans will have to turn too for relief at some point during the season.

If I were a member of the NFLPA I'd petition EA Sports to put players from the past on the cover. Instead of Vince Young, why not put up Warren Moon? Instead of Ray Lewis, why not Dick Butkus? Instead of Shaun Alexander, why not Walter Payton?

Pay homage to the past, and teach kids about the history of the NFL. And you can get rid of the curse at the same time...

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